Saturday, November 12, 2011

Batman: The Brave and the Bold # 12 – A Review

Writer: Sholly Fisch
Artist: Ethen Beavers

Colorist: Guy Major

Letterer: Dezi Sienty

Cover: Rick Burchett, Dan Davis and Gabe Eltaeb
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

One of the things that have kept me coming back month after month on this title is the consistency of the creative team. Each issue has been written by Sholly Fisch and illustrated by Rick Burchett and Dan Davis. The art is in the animated style of the cartoon it’s based on, but I find that Rick and Dan come up with some wonderful ways to help tell each story, which I’ve commented on in the past. However, this issue and last issue had a guest artist and I was seriously thinking about jettisoning the title because of it (fickle consumer that I am – I finally dropped Marvel Adventures Super Heroes once I learned Paul Tobin was off the book). But one of the benefits of the animated style is that a new or fill-in artist can easily step-in without too much of a change. So, while I’m interested in how Rick and Dan may have handled Sholly’s script (their cover is awesome), I have no reservations about praising Ethen’s effort, because this book was GREAT!

It’s Halloween, “when crime gets strange”. There’s a full moon, some eerie fog, and the sky is filled with bats as Batman and Zatanna arrive to investigate a break-in at the House of Mystery. Cain greets them on the stairs in the main room with a small red cat-like creature with horns, wings, and spiked tail. To the side sits Abel rooted to the ground, because he’s been transformed into a tree. Zatanna quickly “snruter mih ot sih lamron mrof”. Abel is naturally dazed and confused, but is also hopeful that the sight of Zatanna means she’s changed her mind about going on a date with him that night. As Batman looks over the scene, he smiles when he discovers that the “streamers” throughout the room are actually made of toilet paper!

Batman and Zatanna begin to run down the list of “most obvious suspects”, when he gets a buzz from his utility belt, indicating an emergency in Gotham City. Z magically transports them back to town, but along the way Batman remarks that he doesn’t really like Halloween, because “science follows rules” unlike magic. “So does magic, Batman. You just have to look for its rules, because they’re not always what you expect. Everything has rules, Batman. Even Halloween.”

The first suspect and the one terrorizing Gotham is Doctor Destiny. He might spare Zatanna if she became his “dream girl”. She’s NOT interested and they defeat him, but he has no knowledge of either the House of Mystery or the toilet paper. Next they battle Mister Mxyzptlik, who turns them into Thanksgiving parade style balloons (only not giant size). Even filled with helium Batman’s “scary eyes” are intimidating and Mxy changes them back. He doesn’t know anything about the toilet paper either. “There’s a difference between mischievous and just plain childish…some ‘world’s greatest detective you are…”

Back in the cemetery outside the House of Mystery, Batman and Zatanna think of some more likely perpetrators, including Wotan, Felix Faust, Bat-Mite, and the Queen of Fables. (What kid is going to know any of these characters? For me this is part of the charm of the book -- you just go with it.) They narrow it down to a powerful magic-user that would want to pull a childish prank. “A prank would only be fun to someone who could see the results. He’d stay close by. But how?” muses Batman. “Misdirection” replies Zatanna illustrating the point by doing a card trick from her “magic” act. That’s all Batman needed and he’s finally put all the pieces together declaring “And Halloween is a perfect time for misdirection when everyone’s in disguise, and nothing is as it seems. Isn’t that right “Cain”? Or should I say…Klarion, the Witchboy!”

Klarion (the blue-skinned one of recent years and long time foe of Etrigan, the Demon.) isn’t done with his tricks yet as he summons a host of mystical bad guys, which Zatanna counters by calling forth a host of supernatural good guys. We get a wonderful two-page spread of heroes versus villains, which is a virtual who’s who of DC’s otherworldly characters, including Deadman, Swamp Thing, Blue Devil, Etrigan, the Spectre, Tomcat, Blockbuster, Vampiric Monk, Hugo Strange’s monstermen, werewolves, Solomon Grundy, etc. It’s a supernatural challenge of the super friends when it all comes to a head as Batman directly confronts Klarion, who poses a simple question: “Trick or treat?”

“Treat,” says Batman holding out a piece of candy. “Oh. Rats” Klarion’s can’t trick Batman anymore thanks to the rules of Halloween and dismisses the bad guys. But that only applies to Batman, he can go somewhere else. Not so fast as Zatanna turns him into a frog (the Demon grabs him). Tomcat starts to ask Zatanna on a date (her third offer this night – must the tights) when she returns all the heroes back where they came from. Abel finally asks where his brother is when Batman indicates that the real Cain had been turned into a statue outside in the cemetery. Z does her magic again and returns Cain to normal, where he quickly resumes his usual brotherly conflict with Abel chasing him with a shovel (he was mad he’d been left as a statue for so long). They’re running through the graveyard and the book closes on Abel who smiles toward the reader and says “Happy Halloween!”

What he said. I hope everyone had a safe, fun (and not too creepy) evening this past Halloween night.

Just for fun here's some of the characters that came out of my house:

"Kiss-a-gram" Policewoman Amy Pond

The 11th Doctor

The Doctor and Amy
Pirate Girl

Butterfly Girl

Queen Amidala


Extra!! Who knew the next issue of Batman Brave and the Bold would come out so fast? Well, it did and it was great. But don't take my word for it. It was also nominated as Best Book of the Week by my LCS.

Extra Extra!! I should be 500+ miles from home when this posts -- in Georgia with my beloved bride of 19 years (for an early anniversary trip) to attend the big CD release concert of ApologetiX. The new "album" is called Wise Up and Rock and it is FANTASTIC!!! You could order a copy here and get an instant download.

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